ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
I think theres something about the heightened responsibility to tell the truth that attracts me to these roles,
especially when you can have them on the set to help you do your job. And now that I have two sons who are
15 and 17 who love watching movies, you can count me in whenever I have an opportunity to do a movie that
gives a history lesson about our contributions, especially to the military. Im in! Im involved!
Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Red Tails
Interview with Kam Williams
Cuba Gooding, Jr. was born in the Bronx, New York on January 2, 1968, to Shirley and Cuba, Sr., the lead singer of the R&B group The Main Ingredient. But after his deadbeat dad abandoned the family in 1974, Jr. and his siblings were raised in L.A. by his struggling single-mom. He ended up attending four different high schools, but was still popular enough to be voted class president at three of them.
Cubas showbiz career began in 1984 as a breakdancer during the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. He subsequently landed several bit roles on TV and in movies before enjoying a meteoric rise after his spellbinding performance as Tre in Boyz n the Hood.
In 1997, he won an Academy Award for his memorable outing as Rod Show me the money! Tidwell in Jerry Maguire, and was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People Magazine the same year. He has also earned two NAACP Image Awards (for Radio and Gifted Hands), a Screen Actors Guild Award (for Jerry Maguire), and he even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A born-again Christian since the age of 13, Cuba married his childhood sweetheart, Sara Kapfer, whom he started dating in high school. They have three kids, Spencer, Mason and Piper. Here, he talks about his latest outing as Major Emanuelle Stance in Red Tails, a World War II epoch about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
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Kam Williams: Hi Cuba, thanks for the interview.
Cuba Gooding: Anytime, brother, how are you?
Kam Williams Just fine. Howre things with you?
Cuba Gooding: Im good. Its easy when youre talking about a movie youre passionate about.
Kam Williams What made you so passionate about Red Tails?
Cuba Gooding: Well, I had first heard this story of the Tuskegee Airmen back in 1992 when I did that HBO movie. At the time, I was a young man just finishing his education, and it frustrated me that I hadnt learned anything about these African-American pilots who had escorted bombers during World War II. It was one of those things where I was going, What the hell! Why didnt I already know this? So, to tackle that subject-matter for HBO was monumental in my life. Of course, I moved on in my career and did other things, but when I heard that George Lucas was going to make a blockbuster about the Tuskegee Airmen, I was all over it. How often do we in Hollywood get an opportunity to tell a black tale on a scale like this, an action adventure? I knew it was going to be visually stunning, so, I told him, Hey, I have to be involved even just to coach the actors or if l have to do Kraft Services. When I met with [director] Anthony Hemingway, we just connected. It was the longest dinner, with tears and everything. He recognized that the passion I had to be a part of the movie was the same passion that these men had to do their part for their country. George even called and asked me to narrate his new documentary for the History Channel called Double Victory which chronicles both the Tuskegee Airmens triumphs in the skies over Europe and the racism they had to deal with back in the States. So, its been a fun ride, and Ive been blessed to be involved in something that not only Im passionate about but so is the man financing it.
Kam Williams Larry Greenberg points out that youve played pilots and military men before, both real-life heroes like Carl Brashear in Men of Honor and Dorie Miller in Pearl Harbor, and also fictional characters in A Few Good Men, Judgement, Outbreak and other movies. He asks: Is this something you have a passion for?
Cuba Gooding: I guess so. I used to say, No, no, I just got lucky being cast. But the older I get, the more I ask myself, Cube, whats your deal here? Truthfully, I think its playing real-life people that Im attracted to. And the majority of them have been military men. But theres also James Robert Radio Kennedy and some other guys Ive played who are real-life people. I think theres something about the heightened responsibility to tell the truth that attracts me to these roles, especially when you can have them on the set to help you do your job. And now that I have two sons who are 15 and 17 who love watching movies, you can count me in whenever I have an opportunity to do a movie that gives a history lesson about our contributions, especially to the military. Im in! Im involved!
Kam Williams Editor/legist Patricia Turnier asks: How would you describe your character, Major Emanuelle Stance?
Cuba Gooding: Major Emanuelle Stance is the patriarch on the base. Hes like the football coach. Hes the person that gives the men their encouragement before they go back out onto the field.
Kam Williams Teresa Emerson asks: What was it like to meet the surviving Tuskegee Airmen? Did they help you prepare for your role as Major Stance?
Cuba Gooding: Every day, literally! They helped me to prepare to be a man. And not only were they on the set every day, but one or two have attended each of the screenings on the junket from Dallas to Miami. And theyre in their 90s! Its been a magical and emotional experience for me every, single time. So, its been great! [Chuckles]
Kam Williams Attorney Bernadette Beekman says: Youve played a lot of heroes. Who is your own personal hero?
Cuba Gooding: My mom, to do what shes done to hold the family together. She raised me, my brother, Omar, and my sister, with all of us being homeless and having to live in the back of a car for a period of time. So, yeah, my moms my hero. If I had to pick one from the screen, it might be U.S. Navy Master Chief Carl Brashear.
Kam Williams Film student Jamaal Green asks: Cuba, is there any material or genre out there that you have not yet covered in your career that you would like to try?
Cuba Gooding: Absolutely! I just heard about this magician named Black Herman who was a contemporary of Houdini back in the early 20th Century. Also, Im an avid hockey fan and Ive been playing for about 17 years, and somebody recently told me that the first organized hockey teams in Canada were all black. Telling those stories would be cool.
Kam Williams Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: How do you expect the picture to contribute to the public’s rethinking of the historic role of the Tuskegee airmen?
Cuba Gooding: I hope the picture makes an impact, and I know George Lucas is doing everything he can to make sure that happens. And then theres the documentary Double Victory I mentioned which is serving as a tangent to the movie. That will be more of a history lesson than Red Tails which is an action adventure tale on the scale of Avatar, with 16,000 special effects. Its something that I think people are going to be really impressed with, visually.
Kam Williams Harriet also asks: What did you learn about yourself doing your role in Red Tails?
Cuba Gooding: I learned that not only am I a descendant of slaves, but that I am also a descendant of royalty, that there are politicians from the 1800s as well as Tuskegee Airmen in my lineage.
Kam Williams Rudy Lewis asks: How inspirational can Red Tails be to those who who are not being educated in the skills necessary to compete nationally and globally with young men of their generation? Will Red Tails be relevant to those 50 percent of young black men who drop out of high school yearly?
Cuba Gooding: I hope so. If some youngsters are inspired to go back and complete their education based on the achievements of these warriors, that would be Gods gift.
Kam Williams Patricia Turnier also says: One of my favorite roles you played in your career is Dr. Ben Carson. What did it mean to you to represent this great physician who became the first African-American medical doctor in history to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
Cuba Gooding: [Shouts] You see! I forgot about that one while we were just focusing on military men. Its my passion to play all these types of characters that help educate how great it is to be not just African-American, but American.
Kam Williams The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
Cuba Gooding: Yes, sir. Every day.
Kam Williams The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
Cuba Gooding: Yes, from time to time, but God has blessed me with the ability to be more happy than fearful.
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George Lucas: Hollywood Didn’t Want To Fund’Red Tails’ Because Of Its Black Cast10 January 2012In an appearance on The Daily Show last night, George Lucas said that he had trouble getting funding for his new movie, “Red Tails,” because of its black cast. “This has been held up for release since 1942 since it was shot, I’ve been trying to get released ever since,” Lucas told Jon Stewart. “It’s because it’s an all-black movie. There’s no major white roles in it at all…I showed it to all of them and they said no. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.” “Red Tails,” which stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Terrence Howard, is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, the group of pioneering black pilots who fought in the United States’ segregated armed forces during World War II. The movie is directed by Anthony Hemingway, the rare black director getting a chance to direct a big-budget feature.HuffingtonPost
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Directed by: Anthony Hemingway. Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston, Brandon T. Jackson and Nate Parker.
Red Tails is an upcoming film directed by Anthony Hemingway, from a script by John Ridley and story by executive producer George Lucas. It is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American combat pilots during World War II, and is the first Lucasfilm Ltd. production since Radioland Murders (1994) not to be associated with the Indiana Jones or Star Wars franchises. George Lucas began developing Red Tails around 1988. He compared it to Tucker: The Man and His Dream as “a story too good to be true”. Thomas Carter was his original choice to direct. A number of writers worked on the project until John Ridley was hired in 2007 to write the final screenplay. Lucas held discussions with Samuel L. Jackson regarding Jackson possibly directing and acting in the film. Although Jackson praised the script, he did not commit to either role.
Anthony Hemingway was finally chosen to direct in 2008. In researching the film, Lucasfilm invited some of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen to Skywalker Ranch, where they were interviewed about their experiences during World War II. Lucasfilm was also given access to the original mission logbooks used by some of the pilots.
Production began in March 2009. High-definition Sony F35 cameras were used for principal photography, which took place in the Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia and England. While shooting in the Czech Republic, the actors underwent a “boot camp” program, during which they lived in similar conditions as the actual Tuskegee Airmen. Editing began while the production was in Prague. Avid editing systems were used simultaneously in a Prague studio and at Lucasfilm. A vehicle was fitted with a “technical center” so that the production could quickly move between locations. In March 2010, Lucas took over direction of reshoots, as Hemingway was busy working on episodes of the HBO series Treme. Hemingway will have final approval over the footage.YouTube
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Airmen who fought to fightTwo stars and a producer talk about “Red Tails,” the story of the black Tuskegee pilots who overcame racism in World War II.9 August 2011Tirdad Derakhshani’It’s Top Gun with black pilots.”So Terrence Howard describes with a punchy tagline his film, Red Tails, a WWII actioner about the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African American fighter pilots in the U.S. armed forces. . . . Howard said the film allows white and black viewers alike to see “what happens when a people are oppressed and they stand apart and instead of focusing on what they lack, they do something about it.” Coproducer Johnson, who studied law at Howard University and practiced for a short time as an Army lawyer, said the Airmen’s triumph did not end in 1945.”Over my years of research, I met a lot of the Tuskegee Airmen,” he said, “and they went on to become leaders and captains of industry.” Red Tails is not a history lesson; it is, in the end, entertainment, Johnson said. If you want the history, he added, the production team also will release Double Victories, a new two-hour documentary about the Airmen narrated by Gooding. Are the filmmakers worried that Red Tails, which will be marketed as an action blockbuster for a general audience, might be perceived as a film for a black audience and thus lose out at the box office?Philly.com
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Red Tails, Lucass Tuskegee Airmen Movie, Lands a Release DateDave Itzkoff29 July 2011It was a long time ago1994, to be precisewhen George Lucas produced his last film that was not connected to his Indiana Jones or Star Wars fantasy franchises. Now his long-in-the-works film about the fighting men of a very different war finally has a release date: on Friday, Lucasfilm said that Red Tails, a film about the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black pilot group that fought in World War II, would be released on Jan. 20. The film is directed by Anthony Hemingway, who has directed for television series including Treme, True Blood and CSI: NY, and its ensemble cast features Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and Bryan Cranston, as well as Tristan Wilds (of The Wire and 90210), Cliff Smith (better known as the rapper Method Man), Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelley.
Mr. Lucas, the executive producer of Red Tails, said in a statement: Ive wanted to do this film for a great many years. So it is especially gratifying to see it all come together. He added: The Tuskegee Airmen were such superb pilots that it was essential for us to create visual effects that would live up to their heroism and put audiences in the cockpit with them. They were only in their early 20s when they performed these amazing feats. They became the best of the bestthe top guns.artsbeat
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The problem with all-star African American Casts…
By Tyler Perry
Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THATS RIGHT, EXTINCT! Ask any executive at a Hollywood Studio why, and most of them will tell you one of two things. The first thing theyll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so its hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even. Secondly theyll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most black movies dont sell well in foreign markets. So what that means is you will begin to see less and less films that star an all black cast. Isnt that sad in a 2012 America? Somewhere along the way we still havent realized that we are more alike then not.
I must tell you that I have been very fortunate to work with a studio that sees the value in my type of storytelling and filmmaking. As well as having you, an audience of all races of people, who have stood by me arm and arm. It has helped me navigate through some pretty rough waters.
I thought that as black people in Hollywood, this is just our reality, but I quickly realized that this is not racism. What made me realize this is I had a conversation with Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas, and he was telling me that he was having the same problem with Red Tails. I was blown away! Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has an all-star African American cast, including Cuba Gooding, Jr and Terrence Howard
, which opens this Friday. He went on to say that he brought the movie idea of Red Tails to several studios and no one wanted to make this film. . . .
AND THIS IS GEORGE LUCAS! Not to be deterred, he put up his own money, shot the movie then took it back to those same studios, and they wanted nothing to do with it. One of them even refused to see the film, citing the above mentioned problems. So George decided to take a huge risk by entirely funding the movie and releasing it himself. What a guy! For him to believe so strongly in this story is amazing. I think we should pull together and get behind this movie. I really do! Not just African Americans, but all of us. I have seen the movie and screened it here in Atlanta. I loved it and I think you will too. The Tuskegee Airmen, who were at the screening, were so happy that somebody is telling a small part of their story.
It opens this Friday. Please take your kids, you will enjoy it and so will they. There is a lot of action and adventure and also a great history lesson to be learned. George, I just want to say, thank you for having the courage to do this
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John Lithgow (Actor), Cuba Jr. Gooding
This true story of the black flyers who broke the color barrier in the U.S. Air Force during World War II is a well-intentioned film highlighted by an excellent cast. Proud, solemn, Iowa-born Laurence Fishburne and city-kid hipster Cuba Gooding Jr. are among the hopefuls who meet en route to Tuskegee Air Force Base, where they are among the recruits for an “experimental” program to “prove” the abilities of the black man in the U.S. armed services. Fighting prejudice from racist officers and government officials and held to a consistently higher level of performance than their white counterparts, these men prove themselves in training and in combat, many of them dying for their country in the process. Andre Braugher costars as a West Point graduate who takes charge of the unit in Africa and in Italy (where it’s christened the 332nd). The film is rousing, if slow starting and episodic, but it’s periodically grounded by a host of war movie clichés, notably the calculated demise of practically every trainee introduced in the opening scenes (ironic given the 332nd’s real-life combat record–high casualties for the enemy, low casualties among themselves, and no losses among the bombers they escorted). Ultimately the Emmy-nominated performances by moral backbone Fishburne and the dedicated Braugher and the energy and cocky confidence of Gooding give their battles both on and off the battlefield the sweet taste of victory.Sean Axmaker
* * * * * Oscar nominations 2012: full list
Juano Hernández (July 19, 1896 July 17, 1970) was a Puerto Rican stage and film actor of African descent who was a pioneer in the African-American film industry. He made his debut in an Oscar Micheaux film, The Girl from Chicago which was directed at black audiences. Hernández also performed in a serious of dramatic roles in mainstream Hollywood movies. His participation in the film “Intruder in the Dust” earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for “New Star of the Year.” . . . In 1949, he acted in his first mainstream film, based on William Faulkner‘s novel, Intruder in the Dust, in which he played the role of “Lucas Beauchamp”, a poor Southern sharecropper unjustly accused of murder. The film earned him a Golden Globe nomination for “New Star of the Year.” The film was listed as one of the ten best of the year by the New York Times. Faulkner said of the film: “I’m not much of a moviegoer, but I did see that one. I thought it was a fine job. That Juano Hernandez is a fine actorand man, too.” Film historian Donald Bogle said that Intruder in the Dust broke new ground in the cinematic portrayal of blacks, and Hernandez’s “performance and extraordinary presence still rank above that of almost any other black actor to appear in an American movie.”Wikipedia
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
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#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 17 January 2012